Fortescue Metals Group is celebrating more graduates from the company’s Vocational Training and Employment Centre (VTEC) in Karratha, Western Australia.
The new graduates will start full-time employment at Fortescue’s Solomon Hub in Western Australia, in roles spanning drill and blast, mine development, ore processing, resource definition and mobile maintenance roles.
The VTEC program focusses on providing Aboriginal employment opportunities and bridging the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians in the workplace.
One of the graduates was Nicholas Palmer, a Martu man who grew up in a remote community where he did not have the opportunities he now has.
“This opportunity with VTEC means a lot to me, as I can show my family I can do anything and now I want to encourage my friends and family to come and find their dreams,” he said.
Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines was also pleased to see half of the graduates were Aboriginal women, noting the responsibility women hold in leading and supporting communities.
“Aboriginal women in particular play a key role in keeping families and culture strong and it is pleasing to see that half of the graduates are women,” Gaines said.
“VTEC continues to empower generational change in Aboriginal communities, I was humbled to join this remarkable group of trainees to celebrate this important milestone.”
One of these graduates was Malgana woman Mattalene Winder from the Shark Bay/Carnarvon area, who will soon be joining the mobile maintenance team at the Solomon Hub.
“As a mother of four, being able to come to Solomon and earn a good living is such a powerful example to my children because they are seeing their mum succeed,” Winder said.
“I am really grateful for the opportunity through the VTEC program.”
The VTEC program has helped 875 Aboriginal people to gain employment with Fortescue since its inception in 2006.
Fortescue also celebrated the graduation of its nine Aboriginal apprenticeship program participants, joining 15 other apprentices that have gained permanent employment with the company.
Speaking at the graduation, Fortescue founder and chairman Andrew Forrest said, “From the outset, it has been Fortescue’s vision to help break down the social barriers that prohibit so many Aboriginal people from gaining employment.
“Trade Up builds on our pioneering vocational training and employment centre program which provides a guaranteed job after training, giving Aboriginal team members the motivation and confidence to stand on their own two feet and this can be truly life changing.”